'Proper Pint' refreshes at Woodstock and 52nd
We have been profiling businesses now open in the new business building on the northwest corner of S.E. 52nd and Woodstock Boulevard. The third and last of these is "Proper Pint" – a beer-oriented tavern, but a family-friendly one. It also does not serve food – but has provided a means by which families and individuals can come in and dine.If that sounds like a somewhat different kind of business to you, it did to us too. So THE BEE sat down with the owner, Sean Hiatt, recently to find out more. Here's a condensed version of the interview.
BEE: How long has Proper Pint been open now?
SEAN: June 15th was our first day, and that day was way busier than I was expecting without having a special sign up. We have great reviews online – on Facebook, and Yelp and Google, we're like 4.5 to 5 stars.
BEE: You don't have a kitchen here. So what kind of food is available?
SEAN: See that red phone over there? You pick it up and it automatically dials – it's like a Bat Phone for Bridge City Pizza. Joe [Bridge City owner] is printing up a really nice menu in our colors, and we'll have it framed on the wall above the phone. There's no delivery minimum or charge, because it's just one block away, so they just walk it down. It's a great relationship. It's working out really well.
BEE: You also had Rob from FoPo Pretzels over here, doing a soft pretzel popup.
SEAN: We'll probably have a rep from a brewery here as well, describing what they do. But I'm not interested in doing too many events. Previous places I've worked at wanted to do events all the time, and I feel like they lose their luster and people don't really care that much. I want to be a solid, community-oriented neighborhood bar. That's what I'm going for. I get feedback from the community that, "We really needed someplace like this," so everybody's excited.
BEE: Do you allow smoking outside?
SEAN: No, no smoking on the patio at all [because it's prohibited within] ten feet of a door. If somebody wants to smoke, they gotta walk out front. But children are allowed on the patio until 7 p.m. I thought that was kind of important, because this is a very family-oriented neighborhood. When I went to the neighborhood association meeting, the number-one question I got was, "Are you going to allow minors?" But this place is not a food establishment [like other pubs that allow children], and really too small to have children inside.
BEE: Casey Milligan is your partner. How involved is she in the business?
SEAN: In the first few weeks I'd have her come in and help out a little bit, but she has so much on her plate with her job at "Salt and Straw".... So she's [not a hands-on partner in terms of staffing]. I've been working in taprooms and bars for the past nine years. First I worked for the bar at Red Star Tavern, and then the last two and a half years I helped open, control, and manage "The Civic Taproom" down by the Timbers stadium...and was able to transfer that experience into doing this. I got really comfortable creating and doing what I wanted to do there, to the point where I was like, "Okay, now I just need to find my own space and do it."
BEE: How did you finance your dream?
SEAN: [Casey and I cobbled together financing from savings, personal loans and credit lines, and a small loans from family and friends.] It was really difficult, because people who were willing to give money wanted a percentage of the company, and I wasn't able to give that up. For me to do this the way I wanted to do it, I had to not have to answer to anybody else. For that reason, it took a little longer to get as much money together as we needed, but I was able to build everything; I had all the tools and the shop space. That saved us a ridiculous amount of money. So that's why I was able to do it within the budget that we had.
BEE: What reactions do you get?
SEAN: [One of my] favorite compliments [is when] brewery reps come in and they take a look at the tap list and they're like, "Whoa, this is the best tap list I've ever seen." That, and [in reference to decor] we've had a few guys from The Joinery come in, and they're like, "Who made all this?" and I'm like, "I did," and they're like, "This is really nice." So that was an awesome compliment, [coming from guys whose profession is making fine furniture].
BEE: It's beautiful. I like how you've got the Oregon thing going on, with that and the Timbers scarves. Oh! [I just noticed] you do have a few big-screen televisions.
SEAN: Yeah, I designed the cabinets that way so when the TVs are off they just kind of disappear. I don't like to have TVs on just to have TVs on. It drives me insane. That's one of my pet peeves. I hate how television dominates so many public spaces.BEE: But there are a lot of sporting events, so is the TV on every night?
SEAN: No. Probably about three days a week, the TV is on. So now that football's going, like Monday night it will be on, Thursday night it will be on, and then Sundays it will be on. And then sprinkled in through there are Timbers matches, which is huge here.
BEE: Welcome to the "Proper Pint", in Woodstock.
SEAN: I'm super stoked to be part of it.